Maroush Bakehouse – Earls Court

Reviewed on September 12th, 2014 by Dina

A full Lebanese breakfast was on the cards when seeing the menu at Maroush Bakehouse. It seemed like it would make for a nice savoury brunch. It was slightly surprising that when the breakfast was served, it was mainly bread based. On the menu, the items were described as baked pastry. Nonetheless, it was still all cooked fresh and was tasty.

A mini Zaatar Manakeesh was soft bread topped with thyme and sesame seeds. Similar to this was the vegetarian Lahem B’agine with the same bread base but with a cheese topping. Both of the breads were freshly baked. The grilled halloumi was cooked perfectly and it went well with the Zaatar Manakeesh. To make the breakfast a little lighter, there was the strained yogurt dip of Labneh. A small pot of olives and a bit of salad made the selection complete. A basket was warm Lebanese Khobez flatbreads was also served.

Maroush CoffeeMaroush BakehouseMaroush BreakfastMaroush KhobezMaroush Hot ChocolateMaroush Bread DisplayMaroush InteriorMaroush Interior 2Maroush Cake Display

The decaffeinated Americano was really smooth coffee. To end the brunch, it had to be something sweet. Even though there were lots of cakes and pastries, the hot chocolate was chosen. The hot chocolate was not too rich but creamy enough. It was nice that the staff were able to make it with soya milk.

Maroush Bakehouse provides a really relaxing atmosphere. The staff let you sit and enjoy your food. They don’t make you feel pressurised into ordering more food or drink. The staff had the balance just right of being attentive and good service yet leaving you alone to enjoy your time. The dining area felt clean and tidy as the staff made sure everything was spic and span once diners had left.

Displays of a variety of breads, cakes and biscuits adorn one side of Maroush Bakehouse. It was nice that the bread loaves that were on open display were on the higher shelves and all the cakes at the lower levels were in covered boxes. It made the place feel hygienic. The dining area is clean and spacious and there are not too many tables. Behind the cushioned seating area, there is the glass wall decorated with orange strip lighting. Not only did it make for great decor but looking closer at it, it revealed the actual bakery area.

As it had got to lunch time, there were people ordering lunch items. The aromas and the sights of the lunch items looked delicious. Tempted by other people’s orders and realising that Maroush Bakehouse do takeaway, it felt right to take some food home for later.

Firstly, all the food was cooked fresh to order and the portion size was big even of the mezza items. The Lentil Soup was creamy and delicately flavoured with cumin. Batata Harara consisted of potato cubes cooked with garlic, sweet pepper and chilli.

A couple of favourites, even though everything was delicious, were the Moussaka and Shish Taouk. Aubergine, tomato, chickpeas, onions and peppers baked together made the Moussaka. It was more like a stew and it made a change for it not to be a cheese or cream based moussaka. Succulent charcoal grilled chicken cubes made the ever so moreish Shish Taouk. All of the takeaway food was wonderful. So many great fresh flavours made for a tasty evening meal.

Maroush Bakehouse specialises in its freshly baked goods and cakes but also does some of the tastiest Lebanese food. It is a perfect place for breakfast, lunch or dinner.

Maroush Bakehouse, 131-133 Earls Court Road, London, SW5 9RQ

Rating: ★★★★☆

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Hiba Express – Holborn

Reviewed on September 15th, 2013 by Dina

Hiba Express always seemed to me that it was a takeaway place. This is the impression that I got from its name or maybe because at a quick glance, it looks like a really small eatery. But this is definitely not the case. It is a proper restaurant and it also does takeaways.

There is some cordoned off seating by the entrance and inside the restaurant it is a lot bigger than first expected. All the food is cooked fresh and I got the impression that it would be fairly busy at lunchtimes for takeaways, as there were dedicated order points and collection points. At the back of the Hiba Express, was a colourful display of all the fresh fruits that would be used for the fresh juices and for desserts!

A selection of hot and cold mezze were ordered. You can never go wrong with the classic Moutabal Baba Ghanouj with its creamy consistency of the puree of the grilled aubergine with sesame paste and lemon juice. It was topped with the red jewels of pomegranate!  Another favourite was the Grilled Halloumi Cheese. There is the option to have it as a fried dish if that takes your liking!

Hiba ExpressHiba Express InteriorHiba Express Interior 2Hiba Express Grilled Halloumi CheeseHiba Express MezzeHiba Express Bammieh B’ZeitHiba Express Fresh JuiceHiba Express Fruit PlatterHiba Express Mint Tea

The Batata Harara were cubes of sauteed potatoes with garlic, coriander and red pepper strips. The mezze was completed with the Loubieh B’Zeit French beans cooked with tomatoes and onions. It all came with a basket of warm flatbread. The dishes were delicious and very filling so much so that we were not sure if we would be able to manage the main course.

Big chunks of okra in a tomato and onion based sauce made up the Bammieh B’Zeit. It was served with a dish of vermicelli rice. The main course had a lot of flavour to it and it is always nice to have the different type of rice combined with the noodles.

The food at Hiba Express was cooked fresh and there were fairly big portions. The main course was served while we were still having our mezze, so we asked the staff if they could keep it warm until we were ready for it. They kept it covered with foil and on their hot plate until we had finished the starters.

To finish the meal and to have something a little palate cleansing, the Fresh Fruit Platter was chosen. This was a selection of sliced banana, melon, pineapple and orange. It was nice that we could see the staff preparing the fruit at the fruit counter.

For drinks, it had to be one of the fresh juices and the combination chosen was mango and pineapple. Another good drink to end the meal was the mint tea, which was served by the pot!

Hiba Express gave us good service and quality food in a relaxed environment! It will be tempting to go back there for a takeaway meal. One thing to note is that it is open until the late hours!

Hiba Express, 113 High Holborn, London, WC1V 6JQ

Rating: ★★★★☆

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Mezza Express – Camden Town

Reviewed on July 13th, 2011 by Dina

Just a short walk away from Camden Market is Mezza Express! It looks fairly normal from the outside. But once inside, it’s a different story!

Mezza Express opened out into a lovely organised spacious dining area. The back of the restaurant had a big glass front that looked out onto an outside garden area. I thought that this was part of the restaurant but the waiter told me that it was part of the coffee shop next door.

The staff and service were fantastic. They made us feel very welcome and comfortable. Even after we had finished our meal and didn’t want any coffee or dessert, we just said to the staff that we were having a nice catch up amongst friends! The waiter then said that that was lovely and that he was happy that we were there. It was all very genuine and it’s not often that you get that level of friendliness from the staff.

Mezza Express had a set menu which I chose. But on the menu, there was stuffed vine leaves and tabbouleh, both of which I am not keen on. So, I asked if it would be possible to change those dishes to falafel and the spinach filled pastry. The waiter said that was absolutely fine!

So as well as the two dishes mentioned, the starters were made up of hommos and grilled halloumi cheese. All were great and were served with warm flatbread.

My friend had the Lebanese sausages and the Samke Harra fish ratatouille, both of which she enjoyed! We decided to share the main course and went with the waiter’s suggestion of Mousakaat with rice. The baked aubergine with chickpeas and tomatoes was a big portion and all the flavours were good! There was plenty of aubergine and tomatoes in the dish!

Mezza Express gave us a thoroughly enjoyable afternoon meal! It is definitely a place that I would return to!

Mezza Express, 47 Parkway, Camden Town, London, NW1 7PN

Rating: ★★★★★

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